- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No. 17 Northwestern (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten, No. 16 CFP) vs. Illinois (5-6, 2-5), Soldier Field, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Line: Northwestern by 3 ½

Series Record: Illinois leads 55-48-5

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Northwestern would tie its single-season record with a win this week and put itself in position to break that mark with a bowl victory. The Wildcats are also in line for a prestigious bowl. Illinois is trying to become eligible in what could be the final game for interim coach Bill Cubit, who replaced the fired Tim Beckman a week before the season.

KEY MATCHUP

Northwestern’s run game against Illinois’ run defense. Fourth in the Big Ten in rushing and last in passing, the Wildcats aren’t going to move the ball if they don’t get their ground game going. Illinois has allowed a combined 538 yards rushing and six touchdowns the past two games against Ohio State and Minnesota.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Northwestern: RB Justin Jackson ran for 139 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 13-7 victory at Wisconsin. He is third in the Big Ten in rushing at 106.5 yards per game.

Illinois: QB Wes Lunt leads the Big Ten in completions per game (22.7) and ranks fourth in yards passing per game (229.1).

FACTS & FIGURES

Northwestern will only have to travel about 15 miles for what is Illinois’ home game. … Northwestern has won four straight by a combined 17 points after getting outscored 78-10 over back-to-back blowouts by Michigan and Iowa. … Wildcats DE Deonte Gibson was selected Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week after a three-sack game against Wisconsin. … Illinois has dropped five of six after a 4-1 start, including a 32-23 loss at Minnesota last week. … The Fighting Illini rank last in the Big Ten in red zone efficiency, having scored on 28 of 38 trips inside the 20 (19 touchdowns, nine field goals). … Illinois WR Malik Turner caught 11 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. … FS Clayton Fejedelem leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in in the nation in tackles per game (11.3).

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